Speech by Commissioner Avramopoulos at the European Parliament Plenary Session on the recent terrorist attacks

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9 Jul 2015
  • Αβραμόπουλος Avramopoulos

Strasbourg, EP plenary, 08/07/2015

Honourable Members,

The appalling attacks perpetrated on Friday 26 June in France, in Tunisia, in Kuwait, as well as in Somalia, demonstrate once again the brutality and inhumanity of terrorists.

Let me first extend, on behalf of the Commission, our condolences to the families of the victims and express our sympathy to the countries affected, in Europe and beyond.

I wish to condemn these acts of terror in the strongest terms and reaffirm our determination to address collectively this threat.

We need to provide security to our citizens while upholding our values.

Of course, we face constantly evolving threats.

The numerous victims of this year's attacks remind us of this reality.

Investigations are still being carried out by the competent national authorities.

The available information tends to demonstrate that the atrocities committed in  Saint Quentin Fallavier, in Sousse and in Kuwait bear the hallmarks of Daesh's despicable ideology of intolerance.

Their objective is to instil terror.

It is also relevant to note that terrorists are focussing on soft targets such as religious buildings or tourist resorts.

Honourable Members,

This Commission has been working closely with the Member States to identify areas where the EU can make a real difference in fighting terrorism and radicalisation.

We have been working closely with Member States to enhance our capacity to address these threats.

In April, the Commission presented the European Agenda on Security.

The Agenda places terrorism very high amongst the future priorities.

It embodies a concept of security that encompasses the rule of law and fundamental rights.

The Agenda sets out a number of actions to counter the threat posed by terrorism.

We have started working vigorously on their implementation.

Let me focus on some of the ongoing work of high political and practical significance.

(1) Preventing radicalisation remains essential.

The Radicalisation Awareness Network Centre of Excellence, to be launched in September, will take the work of the existing RAN further.

I consider the work of RAN and the whole prevention element of the counter-terrorism policy at EU level crucial.

(2) As of 1 July, the Internet Referral Unit was established at Europol.

It will be fully operational within 12 months.

The mission of the Internet Referral Unit is to identify terrorist material in different languages and to help secure swift removal.

(3) By the end of the year, the Commission will formally launch an EU-level Forum together with the Internet Industry.

This will allow us to discuss how we can reduce the accessibility of online terrorist material and counter terrorist propaganda on the internet and in social media.

A first workshop under the Forum will be held on 24 July with experts from the industry and the law enforcement communities.

(4) The protection of external borders is crucial.

With a view to support Member States in performing enhanced and targeted border checks, the Commission finalised, in close cooperation with Member States, a first set of common risk indicators.

Europol and Frontex are assisting Member States in their implementation and we have just revised the Handbook for Border Guards.

In the framework of the EU Customs Risk Management strategy, work is ongoing to enhance cooperation and information exchange between customs and law enforcement and detect suspicious movement of goods.

(5) To trace and disrupt terrorist finance, we are working on the strengthening of cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units.

Let me also stress that the recently adopted Anti-Money Laundering directive improves the tools to address terrorist financing.

(6) As stated in the European Agenda on Security we also need to better protect our citizens and critical infrastructures from terrorist threats. 

This work includes practical tools, such as the guidance material my services have recently developed on soft target protection.

We are also upgrading the European Programme for Critical Infrastructure Protection (EPCIP), which will help to prevent attacks or failures, to improve preparedness as well as the response to incidents.

(7) As civil aviation remains a preferred target of terrorists, the Commission continues its work to increase aviation security and safety.

A joint process is being developed with Member States to assess the risks from conflict zones and support the issuing of recommendations to airlines and the public.

(8) Let me also mention EU PNR which is an important component of our Security Agenda.

I wish to thank the Parliament for the efforts in bringing to completion the EU legislation on PNR.

I am confident that we can all continue to work together in such a constructive way so that the co-legislators can agree on a text that is respectful of the highest standards of data protection and, at the same time, be effective.

(9)The recent attacks illustrate the need for better international cooperation.

The attack in Tunisia was –except of extremely brutal, symbolic as it targeted tourism, a vital economic sector for the country.

It was an attack on Tunisia's hospitality and the longstanding and friendly relations with Europe.

We must stand by our Tunisian partners and show solidarity.

Increasing their security will also contribute to enhancing our security.

In the wake of the Bardo museum attack, I travelled to Tunis and discussed with my counterparts how the EU can provide support.

We need to work together in tackling the root causes of radicalisation, detecting terrorist travel and building security capabilities and capacities.

Honourable Members,

We have worked a lot in the past six months and we have made good progress in a number of areas.

But yet, the recent attacks remind us that a lot still needs to be done.

We owe this to the victims. We owe it to our citizens, and to our partners.

Let us therefore continue with resolve and determination our joint efforts against terrorism and radicalisation.

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